President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan completed his third year in office on Monday and is now looking ahead to winning a new five-year term in the 2019 November presidential elections. Erdoğan's presidency and his 13-year leadership as prime minister have been marked by sweeping changes in Turkey's political, economic and social life, propelling Turkey to becoming the world's 17th leading economy and a political star in its region.
Erdoğan has been in power in Turkey for more than one and a half decades and has done this through the power of the people and perfectly democratic means. He has been challenged over and over again and has beaten all these challenges, becoming the darling of the masses. That is a unique situation in a world where no leader in a democracy survives more than two elections.
He has become the first Turkish civilian leader to beat a deadly coup attempt. He asked the Turkish people to flock to the streets and city squares to counter the coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016 and the people responded by facing tanks, armored vehicles, attack helicopters and F-16 jet fighters with their bare hands and halted a coup in a legendary manner. This did not only mean the Turkish people were bent of preserving their democratic system but it also showed the deep affection the masses feel for Erdoğan.
Erdoğan and his colleagues ended the military dominance in Turkish politics and opened a new page in the country's democratic process.
Erdoğan had to face a deadly war of attrition unleased by the by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in 2012. FETÖ wanted to grab power and thus attacked Erdoğan and his family through their agents embedded in the state structure including the police force and the judiciary. They tried everything from trying to arrest the Turkish intelligence chief, to creating a de facto coup by arresting businessmen, politicians and officials close to Erdoğan, they used a smear campaign to force people out of office and when all these failed they tried their hand at staging a coup with military assets affiliated to them in July 2016.
In the course of this war of attrition, of course Erdoğan and the government had to take preventive measures that were portrayed by the West as a return to authoritarianism in Turkey. Even the measure taken against coup plotters, the declaration of a state of emergency, was misrepresented as authoritarianism.
Yet, it is sad that instead of applauding Erdoğan as a leader who fought for democracy and commending the Turkish people for shedding their blood for the preservation of the democratic system, the West used this as an opportunity to lambast the Turkish leader.
Then it dawned on all of us that the West was actually green with envy about the miracle Erdoğan had achieved over the past 15 years, they wanted him to act as their servant and bow to all their demands. They did not like the way he acted independently as he put Turkey's vital interests before the interests of the West.
Erdoğan is the first Turkish head of state in modern times to be elected directly by the people. He has introduced revolutionary reforms in the Turkish state system where we have switched to a presidential system of government. It is designed to bring more democratic reforms to Turkey, streamline state functions and cut down the bureaucratic oligarchy. It is designed also to increase the responsibilities and authority of Parliament.
Now the scene is set for Turkey to push forward, create a democratic and social environment where all citizens live as first class citizens of the Turkish Republic, introduce more social and democratic reforms and increase the wealth of its people. This means another seven years with Erdoğan.